By Rob Gray
AMES — Iowa State strives to sprint.
TCU’s dead set on a marathon, with elbows swinging high.
“Really, they want to turn it into an ugly game,” said Cyclone guard Chris Babb, whose team faces the defense-driven Horned Frogs in today’s 12:30 p.m. Big 12 game at Hilton Coliseum. “They want to take you out of what you want to do — especially teams that like to go in transition.”
That would be ISU (16-8, 6-5), which seeks to rebound successfully again from a dispiriting road loss.
The Cyclones fell 89-86 in overtime Wednesday at Texas — and dropped to sixth in the conference standings.
It marked the fourth time they’d lost on the road in overtime, and/or by five or fewer points away from Hilton this season.
“We gave it all we had,” said ISU sixth man Tyrus McGee, who scored 21 points against the Longhorns. “Things will turn our way. We’ve just got to keep playing and play our style.”
That means establishing a quick tempo, despite TCU’s efforts to the contrary.
The Cyclones beat the Horned Frogs (10-14, 1-10) at Fort Worth, but couldn’t fully dictate the speed of the game.
“We’ve just got to stay patient,” Babb said.
And keep moving — with and without the ball.
TCU stunned then-conference unbeaten Kansas, 62-55, 10 days ago for its first-ever win over a top-five ranked team.
The shocking triumph — which sent the Jayhawks in a rare three-game skid — showed it’s possible to win at a snail’s pace in the Big 12.
“It will work,” said Babb, who drilled 4 of 5 from beyond the arc at Texas. “If the team’s not making shots and they’re grinding out the shot clock, taking 30 seconds off of every possession — It’s hard to win (against) that. Especially if you’re not making shots and kind of out of synch like Kansas was.”
Now it’s ISU that looks to rediscover a groove.
Hilton — which is expected to be sold out — helps salve the fresh road wound.
“It’s so nice coming back home after those disappointing losses; to have the crowd that we have,” Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s what you need. If you come back home after losing those tough games, who knows what the mentality of your players is?”
Hoiberg’s convinced his team’s remains rooted in resiliency.
“They lift me up a lot of times,” Hoiberg said. “You don’t sleep much after those losses, especially the last one we had. … Hopefully (we’ll) come out with a great effort.”
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